Television staff

Over 5,000 Chinese servicemen live on South China Sea islands — BenarNews

New reports from state-sanctioned Chinese media have revealed the extent of the population in reclaimed and controlled Chinese islands in the South China Sea.

CGTNthe global arm of state television network CCTV, reported on Monday that a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) hospital ship, Youhao, has just completed an 18-day voyage covering 4,000 nautical miles (7,408 kilometres) and is now back in port.

The hospital ship, commissioned in November 2020, visited 13 islands in the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos in the South China Sea, which China calls the Xisha and Nansha Islands, and “provided medical services to more than 5,000 people,” according to CGTN.

They are “officers and soldiers stationed on Xisha and Nansha Islands and Reefs”, the TV station said.

It is the first time that an official Chinese channel has disclosed the number of troops on rocks and reefs that China has recovered and developed in the disputed South China Sea.

A report released earlier this year by Recorded Future, a private US-based cybersecurity firm, estimated that the number of Chinese troops stationed in the South China Sea was over 10,000.

A 2016 Pentagon report said China had reclaimed more than 3,200 acres (13 square kilometers) of land in the South China Sea, but the current area of ​​man-made islands would be much larger as reclamation work continued. continued in recent years.

Three of the recovered islands – Mischief Reef, Subi Reef and Fiery Cross – all in the Spratlys in the southern part of the South China Sea, have been fully militarized with warehouses, hangars, seaports, runways and radars, said U.S. Indo-Pacific Commander Adm. John Aquilino had said earlier this year.

China’s efforts to turn artificial islands into military bases “destabilizes the region”, Aquilino said.

Sansha’s Growing Population

China and five other parties, including Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, hold conflicting claims to parts of the South China Sea, but Beijing’s claims are by far the most extensive, at nearly 90% of the sea.

In the northern part of the South China Sea, PLA troops seized some of the reefs occupied by the South Vietnamese army in 1974 and China is now the sole occupant of the Paracel Archipelago with around 130 small islands and coral reefs.

Despite protests from neighboring countries, China in 2012 established the city of Sansha to administer Paracel and Spratly Islands, Macclesfield Bank, Scarborough Shoal and their surrounding waters.

A satellite image from December 14, 2020 of Woody Island, where China has been carrying out construction work. [Planet Labs Inc.]

Woody Island in the Paracels serves as the seat of the city of Sansha, which covers nearly two million square kilometers but only comprises about 20 square kilometers of land.

According another CGTN report.

Youhao, or Friendship in English, is a 4,000 ton hospital ship built in China. The ship has over 100 beds, three operating theaters and is equipped with a wide range of medical equipment.

The ship’s medical staff came from the Southern Theater Command’s First Naval Hospital in Zhanjiang, Guangdong Province.